For wheelchair users, comfort and convenience are important features of their mobility device. But design students from Brunel University London, aside from making the wheelchair more comfortable, are set on proving a more glitzy experience.
Brunel’s industrial design senior students teamed up with Blue Badge Style founder and campaigner Fiona Jarvis in order to address a number of key issues. Jarvis stated that style should not be limited. She even added that stylish accessories for wheelchairs should be made available, because people who use wheelchairs also need some well-designed add-ons that are not just in navy, brown or black.
The design students were challenged to generate concepts that will tackle four main areas Blue Badge Style founder gave. There were 22 resulting concepts that the public needed to vote in order to decide or choose which of those will make it to next level – to be made into working prototypes.
The senior design students have created concept designs that addressed these key areas for practical, yet stylish, wheelchair use:
- Bag – since wheelchair users spend most of their time sitting on their mobility device, a bag or kit should be available to hold their valuables. But this bag should be more than just a material used for carrying things. Aside from being accessible when seated and being securely attached in the chair, it should be fashionable and stylish.
- Chair – the wheelchair itself should be chic as well as comfortable. Some wheelchairs have an uncomfortable design and seats are almost always black.
- Cocktail holder – It’s very difficult to hold a beverage glass while both hands are on the wheels. So at times wheelchair users do not attend parties since holding cocktails would be quite impossible. That is why it would be commendable when a wheelchair has a drink holder.
- Rainy days – It is unavoidable that users get stuck in a waiting shed due to heavy rain. Because holding an umbrella while maneuvering the wheel is impossible, having a waterproof wheelchair cover that is also in trend would be very beneficial.
Fiona, who is a wheelchair user herself, further stated that it is essential to understand the importance and significance of combining style and fashion with practical solutions. She is in awe and is highly appreciative of the work of the Brunel design students. She is very excited and is looking forward to developing the ideas as soon as possible especially that she herself would want to use them.
Brunel University’s Co-Innovate program put together the project. The program’s goal is to enhance collaboration and partnership between businesses, universities, and industry through a focus on open innovation, fashion and design.
Blue Badge Style is the United Kingdom’s only company that views accessibility from a design, fashion and style perspective. The company takes a practical, cost-efficient and fashionable approach to inclusive access and lifestyle. To Jarvis, accessibility should not limit the person to living a life with fashion and enjoy everything the world has to offer.